As the effects of COVID-19 in the city diminishes, the Bombay High Court (HC) on Monday, September 19, asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to explain the provisions of law under which they imposed fines to the violators to maskless citizens during the pandemic.
A division bench Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar was hearing two PILs — praying for prosecution of former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for vaccine mandates and seeking refund of fines collected by the state for violation of the mask mandate.
Explaining in detail regarding the PIL, the bench explained that the petitioners also sought a probe against former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for misappropriation of public funds to purchase COVID-19 vaccines and forcing people to get vaccinated.
Responding to this, Maharashtra’s counsel S.U. Kamdar informed the court that the Supreme Court (SC) had recently noted that the vaccination drive by the Centre was not arbitrary and justified given the pandemic. Therefore, the Thackeray government cannot be questioned and prosecuted for the same.
One of the petitions, filed by one Firoze Mithiborwala, through advocate Nilesh Ojha, claimed that the government and BMC’s insistence on citizens wearing masks to cover their mouth and nose while out of their homes, and in public places, was “unscientific”.
On the other hand, the bench stated that if a notification was issued by the BMC that to contain the pandemic, people have to wear mask and fine would be imposed for not wearing mask, then that was for achieving greater good and court will not interfere.
The bench told Sakhare that there was also a Supreme Court judgment on these lines, and asked him to submit the same on the next date of hearing.
The petitioner urged the court to direct the state and municipal authorities to return the money collected so far from the public as fine for not wearing masks in public places.
The court posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.